Entries Tagged 'Elections' ↓

Merkouris Announces Candidacy for Sioux Falls City Council, At-Large B

Rich personally asked me today to share this, and I appreciate him reaching out. I will post any candidate information if they send it to me;

Rich Merkouris, a respected faith and community leader, has announced his intention to seek a seat on the Sioux Falls City Council in the 2022 elections. He will be a candidate for the At-Large B seat held by Christine Erickson. The election is April 12, 2022.

“My commitment as a Councilor would be to listen, communicate and collaborate,’’ Merkouris, 39, said. “I will work hard to hear the concerns of citizens, share my perspective and work alongside others to find compromise for the good of all citizens.’’

Merkouris, a Sioux Falls resident for 20 years, serves as President of Kingdom Capital Fund and Senior Pastor of King of Glory Church. He is on the board of directors for Empower Sioux Falls, Compassion Child Care, and the Sioux Falls Hope Coalition. He has helped lead multiple collaborative efforts in Sioux Falls including the development of the Empower Campus, the formation of the Sioux Falls Hope Coalition and housing re-development in Pettigrew Heights. Over the last eleven years, Merkouris has served as a Volunteer Chaplain for the Sioux Falls Police Department and Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office.

Merkouris pledged to focus on several critical issues, including strengthening housing options, renewing core neighborhoods, enhancing public spaces, lowering youth crime, and encouraging collaboration across all segments of the community.

“I love Sioux Falls and believe it is the best city in which to raise a family,’’ he said. “Our family has been given so much by this community. We want to strengthen it so that every family can flourish in this city. It would be a great honor to represent citizens from all different parts of the community on the City Council.”

Merkouris and his wife, Shannon, a special education teacher at John Harris Elementary School, have three children: Hannah, Henry and Hazel.

EDITOR’s NOTE: I personally have NOT endorsed anyone for this seat. Rich is the first to announce and the only candidate so far for AT-LARGE B (Erickson’s current seat).

I have argued for a long time that religion and politics don’t mix and I don’t think a pastor or faith leader should be an elected official. Either pick to lead a congregation, a non-profit or a city, you just can’t do all three. I fully support separation of church and state and I really don’t care about anyone’s arguments against it because you are not only ethically wrong, it is a violation of the US Constitution.

It is also important to note that Rich was a part of the group that received city funds for rental assistance. It said this in that agreement with the city;

The Organization shall provide the City with reasonable documentation of distribution of the grant funds upon request by the City.

At this point this group has NOT provided the city council OR the citizens an audit of how the money was spent and who it was sent to. I would appreciate before Rich moves any further into his candidacy he explains where my tax dollars went. I have personally heard a lot of gossip, but until the group comes clean with documentation, I’m tempted to believe some of it. For instance, were the landlords forced to only except 70% as a full rent payment? Has all of the money been spent? Where did it all go?

This is what I said when it was proposed at the City Council meeting;

What is wrong here is the delivery system because it lacks transparency. It would be logical to assume no matter who pays for this the money will be direct payments to the property owners of the rentals. But by transferring public dollars to a private fund, the taxpayers will never see who is receiving these funds. Once again, I will stress, this is not about knowing the names of the renters, they will not be an equation in this because they will never see the money, it’s about knowing what property owners are receiving the payments. Will it be the big guys? The little guys? Will it be evenly spread between them? We will never know because the city will be giving up their rights to transparency by having a private non-profit distribute the money.

As I said, nothing personal against Rich, but he needs to do some housekeeping before moving forward especially after hearing the rumor he was personally recruited by Mayor Poops and promised the Pot of Gold that goes along with that support.

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”. -JC

Are White Older Women under represented on the Sioux Falls City Council?


City Council Candidate Bobbi Andera wants people to know she’s an ‘older woman’ and apparently a red wine drinker.

As the bar for being a City Councilor gets lower by the second, sometimes you see stuff on the organization forms that make you, well, laugh, really hard, for a long time;

As you can see the section she filled out refers to PACs and NOT to candidates.

I’m not sure what kind of candidate Bobbi will be, but she must have one heckuva of a dating profile.

Speaking of AT-Large, I have noticed on the city website, they no longer list the 3 At-Large seats as A, B and C like they used to. So I’m sure there was some confusion when she filed her paperwork. Not sure why those designations were removed? Just the continued WAR on transparent and open government.

Some quick advice for candidates running for local office

I have noticed that several people are now announcing for city races. As I watch this process I see several missteps. As a person who has directly worked with candidates on 5 winning campaigns I want to share some brief advice;

• Never run your own campaign or be your own treasurer. Have a campaign manager who has a winning record and experience.

• Never mention the party you are in unless asked directly (especially in a non-partisan race). I actually recommend people register independent before running in non-partisan races.

• Use your friends for volunteering and raising money do NOT use them for campaign advice (they will only tell you what you want to hear and will never give you critical advice).

• Spend money on a competent walking and mailing list.

• Knock on the doors of voters that wouldn’t normally vote for a candidate like you and keep notes of all your engagements (for revisits).

• Have a clear, simple and concise message and logo and find a good writer who will proofread and edit your materials and speeches.

• Make sure your website and other media works before you announce.

• Invite strangers and the press to engage you whenever possible and don’t keep secrets.

• Vet all of your skeletons before announcing.

• Don’t respond to negative or false information.

• Admit and apologize for any accusations that are true immediately and don’t dwell or play the victim.

• Never use your opponent(s) name when publicly discussing their failures. Pretend you are the only one in the race. Only offer new solutions to their bad policies.

• Target likely voters. Don’t waste money on billboards, yard signs, TV and Radio ads or EDDM mailings (Every Door Direct).

• Smile, stay upbeat and positive.

Read this book!

I have not been asked to help any candidate so far in this election cycle, but will likely be involved in a couple of the campaigns before the election but those candidates haven’t announced yet. If you want my help, I only have one request, you have to allow me to be ‘all in’ when it comes to strategy, and you have to be willing to take criticism (probably the main reason people didn’t ask me in the last city election 🙂

UPDATE: Sioux Falls CountCilor Alex Jensen misconstrues how the city can use TIFs

I come to suck the blood out of the city coffers!

I was a little surprised that a former state legislator and current city councilor could be so confused about how the city can apply TIFs. During his interview on KELO AM (Sept 21) Jensen says the city should use TIFs for affordable and accessible housing. Imagine my surprise, especially since Jensen gleefully voted for 3 TIFs totaling $144 million that have ZERO to do with affordable housing. But what he said about what needs to change really surprised me even more. Jensen said the state has to change laws in order to do that. Huh?

While the State could certainly do that, it is not necessary. As I have proposed, with Home Rule we can make our charter stricter than State Law, we just cannot violate the law;

Application for TIF will only be accepted for projects that will eliminate blight, build density in the core, and simultaneously provide affordable and workforce housing. Home rule charter allows the city to be stricter than state law.

There are three ways we could go about this change. The easiest would be the council just proposing the change and voting on it. That would be as simple as a presentation about the change and a 1st and 2nd reading. The next easiest would be my proposal above and have the CRC put the change on the ballot and let the voters make that change. There is also a 3rd option which would be the hardest and that would be to do a petition drive to get it on the ballot.

This is why Jensen’s statement baffles me. The Council and himself already have the power to make this change, we don’t have to wait for the legislature to do something. And if he really believed that TIFs should only be applied this way why did he vote for three that have to do with parking ramps, slush funds and Korean owned egg roll factories?

Talking out of both sides of your butt must be a vampire thing.

UPDATE: Jensen also touches on this during inside Town Hall. Alex offers some strange solutions to our housing shortages;

• Encourage people to live in our neighboring small communities. So basically he is telling people to come to SE South Dakota to work in Sioux Falls, but BTW, we don’t have any room for you in our town. So once you punch out, and go home please take those wages you made in Sioux Falls and pay your taxes in Tea or Brandon or Crooks.

I have suggested for over a decade you could do a pilot program in a core neighborhood in a 4-6 block radius. The city would fix the roads, water, sewer, curb, gutter, city owned sidewalks and lighting. You then could get the residents and property owners in that sector to sign onto a group tax incentive program thru community development to fix up the properties. Depending on income levels the help could be tax rebates or NO or LOW interest loans. As we have seen, the Mayor already has the discretionary power to that.

• Senator Jack Kolbeck brought up TIFs. Either Jack is naive or he is in on the scam, but he wants to get the TIF down to 0% for developers and eliminate excise taxes for them. He then says “So they can pass the savings down to the consumer/renter.” The tired old Reaganomics argument of trickle down. If you are giving the tax cut to the developer, the developer or contractor will simply put that money in their pocket. They know with the demand of housing in Sioux Falls they have NO reason to pass ‘savings’ on down to the consumer. The tax breaks should go to the consumer once the home is purchased. Trickle down DOES NOT WORK, we have proof of this with the enormous income gap that was created by these horrible policies.

• Jack also brings up expanding the prison built homes project to Sioux Falls prison. While I am all for this program, I think the inmates should get paid better for it, I also think they should have job guarantees in the industry when they get out and work it into their probation or parole.

• He also mentions tiny homes (I agree with) and deregulation. That is a buzz word with Republicans, they always seem to think sacrificing safety will save money. In 2018 South Dakota ranked #5 with Highest Rate of Fatal Occupational Injuries. Less regulation is NOT the answer.

I’m not saying the city needs to do this all at once or even change existing ordinances, just try a pilot program based on existing zoning and laws. Shape Places already fixed a hurdle that allows residential areas like this to either fix up or expand their properties. This isn’t rocket science folks. It’s what I told a friend the other day about the issues at the Dudley House. We have this desire in local government to re-invent the wheel and make things complicated while giving them fancy names. We don’t have to do that, we can get simple straight forward ideas from other communities on what works and we don’t even need to travel or pick up a phone to do it. You can get online and see thousands of projects. It just takes time, research and google. When I used to be a full-time graphic designer a fellow designer told me his secret to being so good, ‘90% of my ideas are stolen’.

Mayor TenHaken may have more challengers

Sorry David Z., we may have a crowded field in your race against Paul.

There have been rumors over the past week that there may be two more jumping into the mayoral race soon. I don’t have many details about either candidate except one is for sure.

Hopefully with more people jumping into the race it will encourage others to jump in. I would like to see it a 6 person race or more.

While I am not certain any candidate could beat Poops, we definitely need opponents who will point out his failures since he has been an Ineffective and Fiscally Irresponsible mayor. We all know Poops got elected from the strong White Wing Taupeville Republicans in the SE District. If a strong opponent can organize the Central, the NE and the NW they could beat him. But that is some heavy lifting.

Some people often ask me why I think Poops has been an awful leader, here is my short list 😊

• Massive secrecy and closed government.

• Assault on public commentary and input.

• Controlling the (lazy) media.

• Lack of leadership and cruise control government.

• Special interest/Lobbyist funded unethical trips.

• Tax handouts, incentives and TIFs to wealthy campaign donors.

• Disastrous Covid policies that have hurt our job market, housing and the economy.

• Not stopping the Bunker Ramp.

• Asking church volunteers to do the work of Public Works and FEMA.

• Authoritarian attack on Medical MJ dispensaries and possible illegal ordinances.

Paul got elected because he is a tall, white, male Republican Christian, not because of his qualifications, because the color blind graphic designer has proven he doesn’t have any.

If a strong challenger emerges, I will do everything in my power to help them overthrow Poops.

More Sioux Falls City Council Race Gossip

I got some more news on the council races.

In Central District I asked Tom Hulbert over the weekend if he was going to run for Central. While he didn’t say he will, he certainly hasn’t ruled it out. So that’s good.

In the one At-Large that currently has the incumbent Brekke it sounds like they found a challenger from the medical sector (not sure what they do or if they are retired.)

But the big gossip is that they found another puppet like CountCilor Jensen to run for Erickson’s At-Large empty seat besides the possibility of Zach DeBoer. Supposedly the candidate will have the full-force of the mayor’s connections (and money) behind them and they come from the non-profit world.

This of course is NO surprise to me. I always new Poops and Crew would put up another Pooppet candidate for that seat.

I guess these candidates will be announcing soon. I’ll be polishing my campaign wrecking ball in the meantime.

Emmett Riestroffer slams City Hall and its Corruption

So Emmett drops some zingers . . .

City of Sioux Falls 2022 Municipal Election Update

In all honesty, this really isn’t an update, because I got nothing but gossip, but let’s have fun anyway?

Mayoral Race; As it stands right now it is Paul TenHaken vs. my favorite Levitt dancer, Mr. David Zokaites. Some have speculated that others will drop their hat in this ring, but I am at a loss of words of who would.

Central District; Curt Soehl currently doesn’t have a challenger, but I suspect someone will emerge. Some names thrown around are Tom Hurlbert, Sierra Brussard and Emmett Riestroffer.

Southeast District; so far one person has announced for the empty seat that Ricky Lee Kiley will be leaving, David Barranco. I think David will have a challenger, but I’m not sure who that would be.

At Large (2 seats); There are 2 at large members, Brekke and Erickson. Erickson is term limited and will leave an open seat. The rumor is Zach DeBoer will announce he is running for that seat. Brekke is the incumbent for the other seat and I think she plans to run again.

It is pretty early in this, and I don’t expect any real commitments until after the 1st of the year but if you have any juicy, squirt it my way.

Mayor TenHaken’s PAC hosting a Fundraiser for his Mayoral Campaign

I guess I can’t even ask the question, but I will, since I am baffled, ‘What is the legality of this?’

I am not saying this violates any campaign finance laws, I’m saying I don’t know. But it certainly raises an eyebrow, you know, like when toddlers each give you a $1,000.

So Poops’ Next Generation PAC is holding a fundraiser for Paul’s Mayoral Campaign. Why wouldn’t Paul’s mayoral campaign just hold a fundraiser for itself? The only inkling I have is that Paul is also trying to raise money for the PAC so he can hand it over to council candidates since he will virtually have NO big name challengers as Mayor (sorry David 🙂

  1. Raise money under the guise of mayoral candidate, 2. Give that money to anti-populist authoritarian city council candidates, 3. Rinse and repeat your last 4 years, 4. Scott is speculating from his rear, once again.

I will NOT be attending, but I’m sure I will have plenty of foot soldier reports of the event.

Sioux Falls Districting Commission Recommends New Map

They recommended C11A. I like it because it includes Whittier and Cathedral neighborhoods into the Central and further makes that district more diverse. This is only a recommendation (all members voted for it). It still has to go thru the public review process and be approved by the City Council.

I would also like to commend Chair Mark Millage and especially Commissioner Tom Hurlbert for pushing for this major change in the Central District it is something I think should have been done a long time ago. I have often felt that the Legislative District of 13 should look like this to.